Perhaps you’ve been wondering how creationists handle new research in biology. We’ve already seen how Conservapædians cope: by denial, bleating for the data, and threatening lawsuits, basically by putting on a freak show to distract from the evidence. Facing the same data from the Lenski lab, Answers in Genesis plays a different game: we knew it all along. It isn’t what scientists say it is. We’ll just use the scientific explanation with a few of our buzzwords tossed in.
Here’s AiG’s conclusion about the work of Richard Lenski on evolution in E. coli. It misses the main point — the demonstration of historical contingency — but it basically parrots and accepts the standard scientific understanding, with a few exceptions (they’ll be easy to spot — wherever the text lapses in Mr Gumby-esque assertions, that’s the creationism bellowing.)
Mutations which lead to adaptation, termed adaptive mutations, can readily fit within a creation model where adaptive mechanisms are a designed feature of bacteria allowing them to survive in a fallen world. Since E. coli already possess the ability to transport and utilize citrate under certain conditions, it is conceivable that they could adapt and gain the ability to utilize citrate under broader conditions. This does not require the addition of new genetic information or functional systems (there are no known “additive” mechanisms). Instead degenerative events are likely to have occurred resulting in the loss of regulation and/or specificity. It is possible that the first mutations or potentiating mutations (at generation 20,000) were either slightly beneficial or neutral in their effect.
Given the selective pressure exerted by the media of a limited carbon source (glucose) but abundant alternative carbon source (citrate), the cells with slightly beneficial mutations would be selected for and increase in the population. Alternatively, if the mutational effects were neutral the cells with these mutations might remain in the population just by chance, since they would not be selected for or against. Around generation 31,500 additional mutations enabled the cells to utilize citrate and grow more rapidly than cells without the adaptive mutations. Adaptive mechanisms in bacteria work by altering currently existing genetic information or functional systems to make the bacteria more suitable for a particular environment. Further understanding of Lenski’s research is valuable for development of a creation model for adaptation of bacterial populations in response to the adverse environmental conditions in a post-Fall, post-Flood world.
Cunning, eh? From denying that beneficial mutations exist at all, we’ve got them to the point where they admit that they can be found…they’re just calling them “adaptive mutations”, with the implication that these are like the physiological mechanisms that allow organisms to engage in short-term changes in behavior or metabolism. Of course, they’re still croaking on about The Fall, which never happened, and there is that bit at the beginning about an absence of new genetic information that is a complete lie, but it’s progress. It’s still dishonest misrepresentation, but they know enough to let a shadow of the real science peek through, for verisimilitude’s sake, at least.
The creationists are evolving. Or perhaps they’d prefer that we say they’re “adapting”.